Dr. Ronald J Zdrojkowski PhD
1942 - 2022
Ronald J. Zdrojkowski, beloved husband, brother, uncle, friend, mentor, accomplished Electrical Engineer and inventor, passed away, surrounded by his closest family on June 7, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the age of 79.
Beginning, as a child, building a short wave radio kit in the basement of his family’s Forest Hills, Pa. home, Ron developed an avid interest in electronics. Electronic medical devices became his life’s work. Early in his career he perfected a small, wearable exercise monitor with an electrode system, sensitive enough to measure heart rate through the fingertips. As Director of Research and Development for Respironics, Inc.(now Philips), he was instrumental in the development of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) technologies, which are used to help individuals afflicted by sleep apnea. This ultimately led him to work on critical issues in the medical field. His collaborative work with Dr. Mark L. Sanders at Presbyterian Hospital resulted in the development of bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). These technologies continue to be used by more than 70 million people worldwide.
In addition to his contributions to medical technologies, Ron gave his resources generously to those fortunate enough to call him family, a friend or a colleague. He mentored countless employees at Respironics and was a strong advocate for and understood the importance of education. He had a soft spot in his heart for helping young children, whom he wanted to support in reaching their greatest potential. Ron and his wife Mary Ann also supported his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, with support for students, faculty, and research.
Ron and wife, Mary Ann’s, loving 45 year relationship has been described as “the most married people I’ve ever known”, truly supporting one another through “better and worse, sickness and health” and more. Friends speak of Ron as “a fine friend with qualities seldom seen”, “teacher to many”, having an ”oddball sense of humor and wit”, a “soft-spoken gentleman”, “such a great and kind person” and “the best engineer I’ve ever known”.
Sharing a special bond though their love of the outdoors, Ron and Mary Ann enjoyed mountain hiking in the Rockies. Ron liked camping in the winter, sometimes spending New Year’s Eve in a tent. Whether hiking mountains or simply taking a nature walk in his backyard, he and Mary Ann passed time bird watching, listening to the gobbling turkeys, and enjoying the company of the deer that took up residency on their property. Because of their love of the environment, Ron and Mary Ann continue to support the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to ensure the vitality of the region’s natural beauty for future generations.
Born in Braddock, Pa to parents, Walter and Jane Zdrojkowski, Ron grew up in Forest Hills Borough. He attended Central Catholic High School in Oakland and went on to study Electrical Engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology now Carnegie Mellon University, earning a B.S., M.S. and a PhD in the then new field of Bio-medical Electronics Engineering.
Ronald is survived by wife Mary Ann (Colbaugh) Zdrojkowski, sister Paulette Hill of Allentown NJ, niece Jane C. Bonus of Milton, Ma., nephew James L Hill of Melrose, Ma. and grandnephews Alan K. Bonus and Bailey O. Bonus. He was predeceased by parents Walter and Jane Zdrojkowski, brother Daniel and sister Janice.
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In lieu of flowers please consider supporting American Heart Association or Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.